Friday, April 1, 2011

Being A Guest Speaker At My High School's Alma Mater!

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

I was invited to speak at Pres. Sergio Osmenia High School -Manila, my alma mater. I read the invitation quickly,checked the date and time on my calendar and found it open so I hurriedly replied yes! Excited I was, I forgot about the invite until the night before the event. (totally me, forgetful and loves to cram, hehhehe!)

I started writing a draft of the speech for a graduation day,but couldn't finish it until I was about to leave home the next morning. I scribbled some notes during the travel time(one thing good with having a driver!) and was somewhat ready when I got to the school. I got there 30mins. earlier but noticed that there were no graduates in toga!. My first year Araling Panlipunan teacher,Mrs.Erlinda Santos was quick enough to hand me the program as she welcomed me. I learned that I am actually a Guest Speaker for a Recognition Day! Oh boy, I sweat cold!! haha.

Things passed quickly - entrance of colors, national anthem, doxology and introduction of the guest speaker , and before I knew it my name was called and I heard some applause. My mind went blank but manage to kept calm and smile. Smile. Smile. I don't know much what I said but I heard a louder applause when I ended. Some came up to me and said I have inspired and touched their hearts!

Here's the impromptu speech as far as I can recall.

PSOHS Recognition Day
March 30, 2011
2PM (Assembly Hall)
Theme: Ang mga Magsisipagtapos: Kaagapay Tungo sa Pagbabagong Anyo ng Lipunan Tugon sa hamon ng Sambayanan

Good afternoon. It is good to be here. I am honored to be part of this special occasion.

Thanks to our dear school principal Dra. Tolentino, for a lengthy warm introduction,to beloved teachers and staff, students, to the alumni, to the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, - everybody who’s been a part of this occasion. As my freshman adviser, Mrs. Erlinda Santos said, I will be the first speaker to use this beautiful stage! I hope I give justice to that honor.

I have a favor to make - I will be addressing you in English but will try to from time to time speak in Tagalog. I hope I will not sound as less nationalistic esp. since the whole program is in Filipino. It’s just that with my job, there is less opportunity to speak Filipino except conversational Tagalog. Sana nakilala ko agad si Rafael Duarte, ang pinakamahusay sa Filipino para nakapagpaturo ako. Ang alam ko lang kasi ay ang Tagalog - English nina Ogie Alcasid at Michael V, the Bubble Gang way ika nga. Halimbawa, ang translatation nila sa “Mananahi, Nagwalis sa Maynila” ay ”Taylor Swift Live in Manila!” (laughters)

Seriously, I am delighted to be back at my high school's alma mater. This is where it all began for me. And standing here surely brings back so many wonderful memories of my high school days and the many recognition days I have attended.

I can't believe it is more than 20 years ago and not much has changed personally. I was already this tall then (laughters!). And based on my Journal (a record I started in 1987 when I was in third year), my hairstyle then was exactly the same hairstyle now (yea with bangs!).

I also noticed how the theme during my graduation in 1989 and today are similar. Ours was "Kabataang May Pakikilahok: Kasagutan Sa Mga Hamon ng Panahon". For this year, the theme is "Ang mga Magsisipagtapos: Kaagapay Tungo sa Pagbabagong Anyo ng Lipunan Tugon sa Hamon ng Sambayanan". Both themes tell of graduation being a challenge and graduates as partners in societal change. I'll mention more about partners in a while.

I can also relate to many of you and found some things in common when I was your age.

1. I belong to a poor family. My father is a bus conductor while my mother sews dresses. She has to work to augment my father’s income and feed the family. I have three (3) brothers, one older and two younger than me.

2. And I love stories.

One of my favorite stories is the “Wizard of Oz”. As you know, the story of the “Wizard of Oz” is about four characters who, through no fault of their own, find themselves in circumstances beyond their control! Dorothy was swept away by a tornado, the Scarecrow wasn’t given a brain, the Tin Man wasn’t given a heart, and the Lion wasn’t given the courage. And they go on this journey to find the wizard who will solve all their problems.

When these four characters get to the wizard, what do they find? The wizard is a sham –he is behind the curtain pulling levers and blowing smoke. As a result of their experience, they end up discovering that to solve their problems they must look within themselves and ask what they can do.

It is interesting that most of the youth of today and youth during my time is “off to see the wizard”. Many youth like you are looking for the answers somewhere else or from someone who comes from afar.

I don't wanna be a sham wizard. I won't tell you a certain approach, techniques, big secrets on how to be successful or to achieve your dreams. I will simply share my experiences and from those experiences, I want you to look within yourself and ask “what is it is in Atty. Mhe-anne’s experiences, I can use to also reach my dreams, be successful and be able to find my niche in this world”.

Learning by study was a very high priority in my family. My parents were poor and has been obliged to work after high school. College was out of the question and an impossible dream. But they desperately desired an education for their children. Perhaps because I am the only girl in the family, they dreamed that dream for me. They made many sacrifices so that I would go to college and more so I could graduate from college. Neither one of my parents ever sets foot on a college campus until my graduation.

But my parents are my partners. My father is here and I thank him for supporting me every step of the way with my mom. They gave me my tools, and they gave me trust. What do I mean by tools? They taught me to be curious, to ask questions, to observe the nature closely, to watch people-especially in a new environment, to treat people respectfully and learn how to make connections with them, to work very hard, and to always do my best. They believed that no matter what I chose to do with my life, those skills would help me. And they were right.

And what do I mean by trust? They sent me to high school at age 10. They let me know in a dozens of little ways that they trusted my decisions, trusted me to stay focused on my goal, and trusted me to lead an upright life. It is one of the great joys of my life that I did not disappoint my parents.

I have another partner in my life whom I am very thankful for,who is here with us.My brother Mike. Kuya ko yan at dito rin sya nagtapos sa Osmena. Magkasabay kaming nag high school pero section 13 sya ung First Year haha. Hindi, matalino talaga ang kuya ko kaya naging section 1 din sya pero nagpalipat sa section 2. Partner ko sya pero di kami nag kokopyahan ha (laughters!).Hanggang ngayon malaking tulong pa rin si kuya sa aking trabaho sapagkat sya ay paralegal ng law office.I wouldn't be able to perform my work in the same efficiency without him.

And last partners who are with us today were my teachers, your teachers now. Oh how thankful I am for all of them (names I cannot mention one by one) but you have honed me to who I am now. So thank you sooo much.

Now, I should offer a few thoughts on this year's theme: Ang mga Magsisipagtapos: Kaagapay Tungo sa Pagbabagong Anyo ng Lipunan Tugon sa hamon ng Sambayanan. Ibig sabihin yung mga masisipag ay nakakatapos din. (laughters). In English, "Graduates: Partners Toward Transformational Society, An Answer to Societal Change".

Dear students, this is a joyous day, I know exactly how you feel. It is good reason to rejoice that all the hard work has paid off after a year of hardships, struggles, examinations, competitions! Today is a celebration of your triumphs and achievements .Congratulations on your achievement! Cherish it. Thank your parents or whoever was your partner or partners in this achievement.Let there be much, much more to follow.

Strengthen yourselves with virtues that will enable you to achieve your goals and cultivate it to be a weapon to succeed. You will have different challenges suited for your ages, like first year students will have a whole lot of challenges in the second year and graduates will move forward to college and will be a lot closer to being partners towards transformation of society. I admonish you to respond positively to the challenge. Carry with you the teachings and knowledge you have acquired from our Alma Mater.

I am sure that more struggles will come your way but I hope, these struggles will not stop and make you passive.

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.-Nelson Mandela

I wish for each of you to have a fulfilling life.

Congratulations and the Best of Luck.

P.S. Check Off-@ Give a moving/rousing speech & @ Move audience to tears Tasks in the Book 2001 Things To Do Before You Die -


  1. Congratulations!!! I really admire you for this my dear friend. imagine, you were just that small lady but really big, in heart, mind and brainful.. i mean you're that very smart woman in this world .. you are really an asset to everyone and in everything... yeah i do believe everybody's right in telling that many things will they get and learn from you after your amazing and wonderful encouraging speach to the students in your alma mater Pres. Osmena HS.. always remember that i really admire YOU.. You are such a courageous, determined, strong, intelligent, trusted, hardworking, curious in everything, obedient daughter, friendly, lovable and nice woman and a God fearing lady who can really be a great help not only to the students who wanted to achieve their goals in life but to all the people like me who really wanted to be strengthened with virtues that will enable to achieve goals and cultivate it to be a weapon to SUCCEED... I salute you Mhe-anne... those good examples and characteristics you have and posses should be looked upon and followed by the people who wanted to be like what and where you are now... again, my big of applause and CONGRATULATIONS!!! Love you and miss you, too... Take care and ingat always... Regards to Kuya and to everybody and have the most of it... O ayan ha proof ito na binasa ko lahat ng ginawa mo here sa blogs mo ..hehehe

  2. Awww.. Really, Ma'am, you're an inspiration! Your former high school teachers (and your family, of course!) must have been very proud of your achievements. I'm sure the high school kids were very much inspired by your speech and wished they will also reach their dreams like you did! Continue spreading positivity through your blogs, Ma'am! :))

  3. hello Jazz,thank you for dropping by and for your sweet note.comments like these makes it more special knowing it comes from a very positive lady and a blogger like you!! thanks thanks

  4. It is confirmed that rje2ph is my very dear friend from Batangas Ruth Jackson Evangelista (kaya pala RJE!! hahaha).Thanks Ruthie.You've always been generous with praises(not sure i deserve all of it) and with penchant for long comments (na nakakataba ng puso!) thank you for really reading my blog and putting that in juxtaposition everything i said.i'm happy to know i have a friend who takes time to read and comment like you do. it is hard to top that! thank you.

  5. wow. that is one of the best things in life siguro is to give a speech in front of young people that will be looking up to you in someway because you've imparted them a piece of what's inside a heart and mind of an alumnus. bravo!! :)

  6. just thinking about speaking infront of those kids makes me nervous already... ^_^

  7. Wow! Congratulations on your speech. I'm sure you made all of them proud of you. ^_^

  8. Wow, congrats mam! Naniniwala ako na kung wala kayo, wala rin kami sa kinalalagyan namin ngayon, kaya malaki utang ng lahat sa inyo. Ipagpatuloy nyu po ang pag-inspire sa kabataan mam :)

  9. wow pangarap ko din maging speaker sa school ko :) haay


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